Divestment from the fossil fuel industry: Investment in clean renewable energy
On this page you will find resources to help you advocate for divestment/investment policies.
We at SF Bay PSR believe that Divestment/Investment is a powerful tool to help expedite a shift toward green, renewable energy development.
Climate change, driven by fossil-fuel emissions, represents a grave threat to human health and world-wide economies. The fossil fuel sector (FF), also known as the coal, oil, and gas sector, includes companies that extract these elements from the earth and/or refine and transport them. Divestment of funds from FF lending, bonds, stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds would encourage industry movement toward non-fossil fuel energy development. Investment in green/renewable (GR) energy will decrease the cost of GR energy and thus increase demand. As we progress toward a fossil-fuel-free economy, GR energy must be developed before increasing the electrification of transportation and buildings. Without increased GR sources, increased electrification will not lead to an appreciable net reduction in fossil-fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.
The US financial sector is moving away from fossil-fuel investments. In December 2019, Goldman Sachs became the first large U.S. bank to establish restrictions on financing of thermal coal mines and the oil-and-gas sector, stressing the importance of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Goldman Sachs also forecast that renewable energy will be the largest area of investment in the energy industry. More recently the Trump Administration’s auction of oil and gas leases in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and California drew few bids and little income. In public statements, six of the largest banks in the US said they would not back oil and gas exploration in the Artic. These are just a few examples.
Globally the divestment movement is taking off. According to the Yale Climate Connections, “Worldwide, 66 financial institutions and insurance companies have formally decided to eliminate or significantly reduce their financial support for oil and gas drilling, and 131 companies are divesting from coal mining and/or coal-fired power plants. The tallies are maintained by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.”
California has been a world leader in combating the climate crisis, but our public pension funds are actively investing billions of dollars in the very fossil fuel companies driving climate chaos. CalPERS and CalSTRS, which invest the retirement savings of state employees and teachers, have a combined $9 billion propping up the industry driving environmental racism, devastating wildfires, and the destruction of our biosphere. SF Bay PSR is a founding member of the NGO coalition that has been working for more than a year to bring a bill to divest public pension funds from fossil fuels to fruition.
SF Bay PSR has joined forces with other NGOs and institutions to support a broad movement pushing for individual and institutional divestment from the fossil-fuel industry and investment in the alternative energy sector.
- Support Fossil Free California’s (FFCA) effort to build a coalition to work over the next year toward legislation, introduced in 2022
- Assist FFCA by educating legislators, organizational allies, and the public about the environmental health impact of fossil fuels.
- Bring allies to the conversation and support FFCA in reaching other allies and legislators
- Submit and support others in submitting divestment/investment policy proposals to institutions, associations, etc.
- Health insurer divestment, e.g., Cigna divestment
- Health professional society divestment
- Supporting UC Green New Deal efforts
- CalPERS divestment, in collaboration with Fossil Free California
- SB-1173, a proposal for a legislative approach to divestment: Fossil Free CA, SF Bay PSR, Youth vs Apocalypse, CA Faculty Association, and more support SB-1173, introduced in February 2022, by Senator Gonzalez and Senator Wiener. The Act would require CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest from fossil fuels in the next five years. Teachers and state employees agree: our retirement savings shouldn’t be used to capitalize the fossil fuel industry.
To join SF Bay PSR’s Divestment/Investment Task Force and/or for information to help your individual or organizations’ divestment/investment policy development, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADVOCACY TOOLS AND RESOURCES